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The Catskills resort area, aka the Borscht Belt, was the most popular Jewish vacation site in the mid-20th century and the training ground for many of America’s favorite entertainers. New Yorkers hungry for mountain air, good food, and the American way of leisure came to the mountains by the thousands, and by the 1950s, more than a million people inhabited the summer world of bungalow colonies, summer camps, and small hotels. The Catskills Institute was created by the organizing committee of the History of the Catskills conference that was held in Woodridge, New York on Labor Day Weekend 1995.
Phil Brown, Founder and President of the Catskills Institute will discuss the origins of the Jewish experience in the Catskills from the first farms, boarding houses, kuchalayns, bungalow colonies and hotels just before the turn of the 20th century through the decline and current transformation. With hundreds of slides, he will cover all aspects of Catskills life: culture, cuisine, entertainment, religion, romance and mobility. The presentation will convey the daily life and legacy of the Jewish Catskills with humor, nostalgia and sociological analysis.